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Laughlin Heritage Corner: August

A photo of the old entrance to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas

(Courtesy Photo)

A photo of a Security Forces member sits in front of a dispatch computer

(Courtesy Photo)

Mechanics on the flightline at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.

(Courtesy Photo)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

This August we remember two major historical anniversaries.

First, this month marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The war, which had ended in Europe with the defeat of Nazi Germany back in May, finally concluded in the Pacific after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These two air attacks were the first—and so far only—nuclear strikes against human targets in war, and they forever changed the nature of international politics. Key dates this month in the end of the war include:

  • 6 August 1945, when the Enola Gay dropped the “Little Boy” uranium bomb on Hiroshima;
  • 9 August 1945, when the Bockscar dropped the “Fat Man” plutonium bomb on Nagasaki;
  • 15 August 1945, when Japan’s Emperor Hirohito announced that his country was surrendering to the United States. All parties formally signed the surrender agreement on 2 September 1945.

In addition to the end of World War II, this month also marks the 100th anniversary of the official adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which occurred on 26 August 1920. This amendment was the amendment that granted women suffrage—the right to vote in America. It was only two sentences long, but it was hard won by the generations of women who fought for it:

“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

“Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

While these two events were of global significance, and are well worth remembering, the month of August, over the years, has seen a number of additional significant events happen at Laughlin AFB as well. A few of these local historical events include:

  • Laughlin Enters the Personal Computer Age

When: 1 August 1983

What: The 47 FTW took a giant step forward in workplace automation when the wing received 11 brand-new word processors on this day in 1983. Today, less than 40 years later, it’s hard for many people to imagine working without a computer at their desk—or, for that matter, simply living day-to-day without the phone-themed computers we all carry in our pockets!

  • Laughlin’s First and Last T-38A Classes Graduate

When: 4 August 1965 and 12 August 2005

What: The very first Undergraduate Pilot Training class to complete training under the then-new T-38 program here at Laughlin was Class 66-1, and this month in 1965 is when they graduated. The very last class to train in the original T-38 was class 05-13, also graduating in this month, but in 2005! Since then, T-38 pilots at Laughlin have flown in the upgraded T-38C instead (which is mostly a traditional T-38, but with more modern avionics).

  • Conversion of Maintenance at Laughlin from Military to Civil Service

When: 20 August 1989

What: Last year, the 47 FTW’s Maintenance Directorate celebrated 30 years of operation as a primarily civil service function. It was on 20 August 1989 that the hand-off between military maintenance and civil service maintenance at Laughlin AFB was completed!

  • Laughlin AFB Designated a Permanent Installation

When: 24 August 1954

What: In 1954, Laughlin AFB was designated a permanent installation. The base had been closed after World War II, and spent seven years closed until it was reopened in 1952 to train pilots for the Korean War. This month in 1954 is when the decision was made that its reopening would be permanent—the base would continue operating even after the end of the war (which had ended in July 1953). It has been in use ever since!

As always, check back next month for more: We’ll highlight new Laughlin history, new Laughlin stories, and new Laughlin anniversaries in September!

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